Technology and Test Results

I was working with a team of faculty and instructional designers when we debated over the role of technology in education.  It is easy to get caught up in the “newer is better” hype of the latest tech toys but proceed with caution.  We should be viewing technology as a tool and not as a comprehensive answer to improving learning and retention.

The NYTimes ran an article (link here) that discusses this very issue.  Districts investing heavily in “classrooms of tomorrow” are not showing improved student test scores.  I’m not surprised by this for a couple of reasons.

First, too many in education take a “build it, they will come” approach to technology.  Invest and the results will follow.  Failing to recognize the role of the tools in the curriculum simply result in square pegs in round holes.

Second, this technology is new.  It will take some time, and trial, before curricular strategies are aligned with the technologies.  There is terrific research, ongoing, on how technology is changing how we learn.  These ideas will continue to mature and add to the tools’ effectiveness.

Third, some of these technologies simply haven’t lived up to the hype.  As is the case with many first and second generation products, newer isn’t always better.  There are many educators with stories of unreliable and unpredictable technologies that don’t offer the added value in the learning process, especially considering their costs.

Finally, let’s focus on this idea of adding value.  I can fill a classroom with modern technologies and the latest/greatest for student learning.  However, if I don’t have a motivated leader planning for each student’s individual needs and passionately finding creative ways to reach the class, the investment is all for naught.  We need educators to add value to this process.  Some will do so with cutting edge technologies.  Some will find other ways.  There are plenty of tools that can be used, technology and otherwise.

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5 Responses to Technology and Test Results

  1. Pingback: First blog-instructional design « bjames2007

  2. shireese says:

    Thank you for this informative post and sharing the NYTimes article. It is unfortunate when the use of technology for learning does not improve learning goal achievement. New technologies include pre-recorded webinars, or classroom sessions that can be downloaded for easy access. Live e-learning courses are the most interactive because it provides the opportunity to get immediate feedback and answers to questions. The face to face human element to learning is maintained with live e-learning and it promotes virtual interaction that is similar to human interaction, but it may not always be the most practical because of scheduling.
    Relationships between the teachers and the students can be developed online as well as in brick and mortar classrooms, however over use of technology in instructional design can dissipate the connection. Constant advancements in technology have taken away the personalization with sharing information and knowledge. The need to obtain information expediently is fulfilled by the numerous technologies we have to fulfill this need, but it can leave out the face to face contact and feedback that is important to achieving learning goals. It is important to demonstrate technology competencies by comparing the characteristics of the technologies and how it will integrate with learning objectives. Perhaps closer assessment and analysis of learning objectives rather than applying technological upgrades may improve the test scores.

  3. Sharon Miller says:

    Technology has been viewed as a panacea for many the problems in education. It will make students better learners. It will motivate them. It will help them develop higher level thinking skills. Students’ reading skills will improve. Test scores will increase. However, this contradicts some reading theories.
    Contemporary reading theories view reading as a social activity. When we teach reading, we discuss literature to develop a greater depth of understanding. Readers’ workshops may be used so students can discuss their thoughts and feelings about a story. They may help other students build background when it’s lacking. (Keene & Zimmermann, 2007). This helps students to develop a better understanding of the story.
    For learning storage and retrieval, students need to be able to make connections between new learning and information they have already learned. They need to have a background. (Laureate Education, [video], n.a.) Some of this background comes from actual life experiences. Other background is built through social interaction. Technology does not always offer the interaction that is necessary to develop background.
    When different senses are stimulated, there is greater learning. A student who hears and sees the material will be more likely to retain it. (Laureate Education, [video], 2011). Technology may offer the sensory stimulation if the student is engaged. That engagement has to be there. As teachers, we work to make sure our students are engaged. We assess the situation as it is progressing to make determine that engagement is maintained. If it isn’t, we make adjustments in the lesson. Technology cannot make the necessary adjustments.
    Reading is social. It is a time when a teacher gathers his or her students around to listen to a story and laugh together or tell stories that connect with the book. It is a time for children to hear another person “thinking aloud” so they can observe the processes being used. (Laminack, 2009).
    Emotions are a part of reading and other aspects of learning. Children can connect with the emotions of the reader and develop that love of reading from him or her. (Laureate Education [video], 2011). They can sense the connections that the reader may have with the book as we as educators hope our students develop that same passion for reading and learning.
    I am not saying that technology doesn’t have a place in reading instruction and other areas of education. It definitely does. It is a fantastic tool if use correctly. Teachers have access to so much motivational material when we use technology. Teachers and technology are a wonderful combination.

    ¬Laureate Education [video]. (2011). Information Processing and the Brain.
    Keene, E.O. & Zimmermann, S. (2007). Mosaic of Thought. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Laminack, L. (2009). Unwrapping the Read Aloud. New York, NY: Scholastic.

  4. bjames2007 says:

    One dictionary states technology is also a manner of accomplishing a task using technical methods or knowledge.
    If this should hold true, then the knowledge applied as an educator towards learning theories and concepts for the learner is a path of simplicity. Although it practical sense this is not the case. Agreed, technology has a solidified position within the context of instructing strategies, procedures and creative techniques. Its position is to aide in the overall delivery of the subject matter, but not to replace each tool used.
    The use of technology provides a vehicle for further investigation into the process of human learning and supports suggestive study for combating issues educators encounter as they endeavor to work to overcome individual learning barriers. It is a single strategic tool, within a multitude of methods for successful learning.
    Yes, the value is not the technology, but its use and the learning gap it helps to reduce for the learner. However, the use of the correct technology or technical methods, in conjunction to the appropriate technique for the instructor has the ability to create an environment that will stimulate creativity, align with the directed methodology and support the applied instructional theory.

  5. Pingback: Inverting Education | EDUMACATED.WORDPRESS.COM

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